Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Social Capital Theory and Four Factors of Organizational Improvement

Interesting research entitled Social Capital in Human Service/Child Welfare Organizations: Implications for Work Motivation, Job Satisfaction, Innovation, and Quality by Salvador Montana helps shed light on how Social Capital Theory explains organizational performance through the factors of innovation, satisfaction, motivation and quality. Such research is limited in its causality and accurate terms of measurement but does create higher levels of understanding that focuses on how group values can generate higher levels of performance.

Four thousand and six participant surveys were retrieved from human service industry workers in Texas. The age of participants varied and the education level of the workers ranged from high school to graduate degrees. The work environment was considered bureaucratic with clear lines of authority and top-to-bottom type management. The environment didn't appear to offer clear opportunities for employee based environmental improvement.

"The purpose of this study is to explore ways public human service organization can improve the provision of services they provide to the public (Montana, 2006, pg. 7)." The study creates a backdrop explanation of how even in large governmental organizations there is the possibility of improving the services offered through proper socialization efforts. Furthermore, it lends credibility to the factors of innovation, motivation and satisfaction having significant influence on performance improvement as postulated by me-conomics (the socialized self within an economic system).

According to the theoretical model proposed by the researcher there are four dimensions of social capital: 

Social Capital

1.) Structural Dimension: Network Ties, Network Configuration, Appropriable Organization

2.) Rational Dimension: Trust, Norms, Values, Identification

3.) Cognitive Dimension: Shared language, codes and narratives.

4.) Social Knowledge: Exchange and Recombination, Explicit and Implicit Knowledge.

Each of these dimensions is theorized to lead to innovation, satisfaction, motivation, and quality. The eventual result of these four factors would theoretically result in improved organizational performance within the bureaucratic human service industry. The study attempted to see if these four characteristics lent support to the model. The study did not seek to find causality between the characteristics but instead attempted to find significant associations.

The results of the study indicated that there was a strong correlation between normative factors linked to social capital which include information, knowledge, networks, trust, goal setting, group cohesion and coordination toward group goals. These social and normative factors had influence on innovation and satisfaction to a stronger degree and a weaker association with motivation and quality. The weakest association was with quality leaving this as a possible extra variable without strong influence and a minimal connection to the other three.

The researcher concludes that findings of the multiple regression analysis indicated that social capital has the greatest predictive strength on innovation, motivation and satisfaction. In essence when the culture and conditions of the organization are set to the right tone an organization can improve upon these four variables. It is the social group that reinforces these expectations and behaviors and leads to higher levels of performance. It is through this socialized and organizational learning process that companies can improve overall performance even in bureaucratic institutions such as child welfare organizations.

The author contends that even though Social Capital Theory has been around for some time it has limited research because it is strongly conceptual and abstract without strong ability to measure multiple factors for correlation. Minimal research has been associated with larger populations but not strongly focused in the organization. Valid measures have been difficult to find and that such concepts will need to be conducted over a larger spread of time through multiple researchers. The author further indicates that the highly conceptual nature of the variables will need to be better defined before significant measurements can be taken to improve organizational performance through such a lens.

Montana, S. (2006). Social Capital in Human Service/Child Welfare Organizations: Implications forWork Motivation, Job Satisfaction, Innovation, and Quality (Doctoral Dissertation). The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved January 23, 2013 from ProQuest.

No comments:

Post a Comment